St Mary's Church, Edwinstowe



Edwinstowe is a lovely little Nottinghamshire village.......the kind of place I would like to retire to, right next to Sherwood Forest Visitor Centre (what else could you possibly want?). There are some rather nice looking bungalows in Church Street, across from the cricket pitch, which I definitely have my eyes on!

The name Edwinstowe means the ‘holy place of Edwin.’ Edwin of Northumbria c. 586 – 12 October 632/633 was an important Anglo-Saxon king-the second Christian king in England, baptised by Paulinus, the first Archbishop of York in 627 AD. Edwin was killed at a battle in a small hamlet called Cuckney (then known as Hatfield) by Penda, King of Mercia. Edwin's decapitated body was secretly buried in a clearing in the forest, to prevent it from falling into enemy hands. By the time his supporters returned to collect the body to take it to York for a proper burial, people were already calling him Saint Edwin. His body was later interred at Whitby Abbey (another place associated with Robin Hood).

A small wooden chapel was erected on the spot where Edwin's corpse had laid, and this became the site of the present St. Mary’s Church. The Domesday Book states, ‘in Edenstou there is a church, a priest and four bordars*’ (slaves* who worked on the priest's lands). In 1175 Henry II had this church, along with many others built of stone as part of his penance for the murder of Archbishop Thomas Beckett. Today, the carved heads of Henry and Beckett face each other amongst the stone pillars of the nave of the church.


It is likely that nearly all the English medieval monarchs visited this church at some time during a 200 year period, on their way to the nearby royal hunting lodge at King’s Clipstone. The villagers of Edwinstowe were bound by harsh forest laws, and courts to punish offenders were held frequently. In 1334 A.D. the Vicar of Edwinstowe, John de Roystan, was convicted of "venison trespasses," a major crime.

The tower of the curch is Norman and the porch, south door and font date from the 14th century. The broach spire was added to the Norman tower in 1400 A.D and the eight ornamental turrets date from around 1600.



By the main door of St. Mary’s Church stands the 14th Century font. This symbolises the entry into Christian life through baptism and is the traditional place for a font. Popular tradition has it that Robin Hood and Maid Marian were married here in St Mary’s. There was certainly some sort of church here during any of the periods ascribed to Robin Hood and although the entrance has been refurbished, it is likely that it was here in the doorway that they would have been married (as was the tradition at the time).


12 comments:

Clement of the Glen said...

"St Mary's Church, Edwinstowe"

The church where tradition says Robin Hood married Maid Marain.

Avalon said...

How lovely! The church and area is filled with history but the part that intrigues me most is the oral rumor that Robin and Marian (or whoever his love might have been), might have visited here.
We have a huge Saint Mary's Church and Catholic School near by house and I wondered if it might have been named for this church.

Clement of the Glen said...

It is certainly possible Avalon, but St Mary was a common name for churches across the country and elsewhere. How old is your church?

Mike Giddens said...

Edwinstowe, yes a lovely place , my wife and i were there a few years back, it would be a great place for all us fans to meet. I felt very close to Robin Hood when I was there, you cant help but feel the atmosphere of the whole area.

Clement of the Glen said...

Neil had a similar idea, but to meet up at Burnham Beeches!

I defiantely want to do something like this next year and meet all you great people!

Azul MarĂ­a said...

It's great you have your culture so vivid. 633 AD!OMG... most of the prehispanic temples and cities from that time were destroyed or buried T_T...

And of course. I have to visit that Church!!!!!!!!! :D

Albie said...

Local tradition says Robin & marian were married in the doorway of the church. If they were 'outlawed' then they would not have been allowed inside the church. Most priests were sympathetic to such people so would marry them in the doorway instead.

Clement, I have a feeling those bungalows are owned by Newark & sherwood District Council and may be 'sheltered accommodation for the elderly and disabled. They look similar to the ones we have here in Walesby.If you do get one you'll have a direct view acroos the fields to the new Visitors Centre when they build ir!!

As an addition to the post, edwin is believed by local historians to have fought a battle in the area that is Walesby Scout Camp though this is not substantiated. He was killed at the Battle of 'Heathfeld' or Hatfield which has been identified as the area between Gainsborough and Doncaster around 15 miles north of Edwinstowe. His body was brought to Edwinstowe before being buried at an unknown location - this is how the village got its name.

Recently, an area near the village of Cuckney has been identified as being called Hatfield in ancient times. some years ago a number of bodeis were found buried at Hatfield so it may be the battle was actually fought there. Cuckney is on the A60 Mansfield to Worksop road which became the 'new' route from Nottingham to york in preference to the older A614 route in medieval times. Cuckney is around 2.5 miles north-west of Edwisntowe as the crow flies

Neil said...

Only about 3 to 4 miles away is the magnificent Thoresby Hall now a Warner Hotel and well worth a stay. It is in such an impressive location and is really a stately home formerly owned by the Manvers family for many many years.
This is directly adjacent to Clumber Park - all part of this historic area. Dont forget the 'major oak' close to Edwinstowe and in Sherwood Forest.

Clement of the Glen said...

Albie,
Thanks for the extra information. Yes the tradition that they were married in the doorway because Robin was outlawed has a feel of authenticity about it. I like to think its true!
I definately want one of those bungalows.....and to be opposite the visitor centre...bliss!

Neil,
I nearly went to Thoresby Hall, but decided on The Forest Lodge as I had been there before and enjoyed it. Its even better now as they have enlarged it. And I haven't forgotten the Major Oak there's more pictures to come.

Avalon said...

Not very old...maybe late 1800...Sadly American sees historical buildings as trash and eventually tears them down, we have very little history.

Neil said...

In Avalons last item she mentions history and the USA but they are a relatively young country so in fairness they would not have the old structures. However when they have made films with a historical content they are very good indeed.In more recent history The Queen Mary has been in Long Beach Harbour for more time than it was ever a cruise ship in Britain and they have looked after it so well. We talk on this Blog mainly about a Walt Disney film that we all love. It amazed me to see that the Walt Disney Company had made a profit in the first quarter of the year of 1.3 billion dollars and in doing that think what great fun and joy they gave us. For many years Walt Disney struggled financially to survive and I often think that the first Live Action films he made in England inc The Story of Robin Hood, almost proved the turning point in his fortunes. I do hope so

Albie said...

An interesting footnote to King Edwin for you all to ponder on.....

When he was baptised the then Pope in Rome sent a gift of jewels and gold to celebrate him becoming a christian king - it was quite a hoard and not just a few trinkets. This was recorded in the annals by the saxons but no one knows what happened to ut after Edwin's death.

A year or so ago, a massive haul of early Saxon jewels was found in a field in the county of Staffordshire, close to the then capital of Mercia, Tamworth. After study by various scholars and such, some are now starting to believe that due to their date, origin of manufacture, etc that these could well be Edwin's jewels.

It is not as far fetched as it may sound either. Edwin was defeated and killed by the king of Mercia at Hatfield. it is likely his jewels would be taken by the victor back to his palace at Tamworth. No scholar has come up with an idea why they were found in a farmers field yet to my knowledge.....